The process of going through chemotherapy can be scary and, at times, alienating. If you have a friend, family member or loved one undergoing chemotherapy, you may be trying to find a way in which you can show your support and let them know you are there for them, no matter what. This article discusses the helpful things you buy, but we will start with the two most common frequently asked questions.
There are many thoughtful things you can do for cancer patients that may help, including giving the gift of your time and/or someone they can talk to. Also learning how to talk to a cancer patient can help both them and you.
Helping with hospital visits, being thoughtful when visiting, researching the important resources/services that they may want ....these are all helpful and valuable ways to show support to any cancer patient. You can read How To Help Someone With Cancer: What You Need To Know for more general ideas of what you can do.
But someone having chemo has extra needs and considerations, they have specific side effects to deal with and regular intense hospital visits. There are many things you can do and get in these specific circumstances. These are discussed below.
There is a wide range of therapy-safe comfort and practical gifts you can give, that are thoughtful and appropriate.
We know that everyone is unique, but also everyone's cancer is unique. So there is no absolute ideal gift that will suit all cancer patients. Added to this is the fact that everyone responds to treatment differently. So below are ideas of things you can do or shop for, but please do bear in mind:-
*the cancer patient
*their treatment (not all cancer treatment is the same)
*their response to treatment (side effects can vary alot)
We listed the gifts below with chemo patients in mind, even though some may be suitable for cancer patients in general. For example items like lip balm can be soothing for cancer patients, but are of particular use for people undergoing chemotherapy because they may get dry or chapped lips.
We have listed gifts in no particular order, as there is no best or worst gift to get cancer or chemo patients. They may not all be suitable, you know your friend/loved one better than we do. So as you go through this list please think of who your friend/loved one is and if you can, what side effects they are experiencing and choose the gift or gifts you think would benefit them the best.
During and after chemo treatment, many patients experience fatigue and may spend more time in bed. Prioritize their comfort and help them unwind with a luxurious pajama set!
3. Functional Clothing
Although many chose to wear loungewear when undergoing treatment, others prefer to stick to their usual clothing style. You can help by buying clothes they will love but are functional.
4. Bathrobe/Lounge Robe
A cozy robe gift means the cancer patient will be comfortable no matter where they go and can be worn year-round. Also helpful for potential hospital stays and convalescence.
5. Cozy Socks
A cancer patient going through chemotherapy has to sit still for a large amount of time. They are also more susceptible to the cold, so a trusted pair of warm bed socks is a nice comforting chemo gift. And even if the chemo treatment doesn't make them cold, they can give a comfy, pampering feeling which may be needed.
Hats are another great way to ensure cancer patients will stay warm during treatment. When you shop for a hat, make sure that it is made of a gentle fabric. But remember that not everyone who has chemo treatment loses their hair, so you might just want to buy a hat as a gift for warmth and not hair loss. Plus hair loss can be a sensitive subject, so make sure this is the correct thing to buy. Check with the cancer patient or the people who are close to them first.
Scarves are another good gift for chemo patients, to help keep them warm during chemo treatment. We suggest that they are small and lightweight, so they can be layered.
As mentioned above chemo treatment could make patients cold and usually the first parts to feel the cold are the hands. A good gift to deal with this could be warm 'touch-screen' friendly gloves that will still allow phone usage.
Cardigans are another good gift idea for chemo patients, especially as they can be taken on and off when needed. Opt for soft, gentle natural fabrics as opposed to heavy, itchy knits.
When undergoing treatment, comfort is always key. Therefore, a pair of comfy slippers might be a welcome gift.
1. Books or magazines
Chemo treatment takes time and novels, magazines or audiobooks can help pass that time and take the mind away from the stress of cancer and its therapies. Please bear in mind that sometimes treatment can cause brain fog, so it might be best to get something light and easy to read.
2. A Colouring Book and Colouring Pencils
Adult coloring books are a great stress-reliever and can help pass the time quicker. And if you're getting them a coloring book gift, it only makes sense to get them some good-quality pens and pencils to help bring their work to life!
A notebook or diary is another good gift idea, as it can use it to track chemo and other hospital/therapy appointments or the cancer patient can write about how they are feeling.
4. Portable games console
Game consoles are a great way to pass the time. Even better, the patient can play online against friends and family, staying connected during this difficult time.
5. Puzzle Books
Puzzle books also may help pass the time whilst undergoing treatment, as long as they do not have 'chemo brain fog'. Some great options include Sudoku, word searches, and crosswords.
A Kindle is lightweight, compact, and can contain thousands of books in its hard drive. As a result, its an excellent for a bookworm who has been diagnosed with cancer.
7. Board Games
Travel-sized board games are another great way to pass the time and can be played with family, friends, or other patients.
8. Embroidery Set
Many patients enjoy taking part in crafts during their treatment, so an embroidery set might give them an opportunity to try out something new and stay productive.
Puzzles, such as jigsaws, can be a good way to distract from the treatment and also something to do at home whilst convalescing.
10. Hobby Related Gifts
Just because they are undergoing chemotherapy treatment, does not mean the fun has to stop and they may not want to let go of their hobbies and interests. So gifts focusing on these might be a good choice.
1. Soft Blanket
A warm cozy blanket is an appropriate comfort gift for chemotherapy patients and can also help fight off feelings of cold. Choose a lightweight and soft blanket so that it can easily be carried.
2. Heated Blanket
If the cancer patient is feeling particularly cold, a heated blanket is a perfect solution - it can have their body a nice toasty and warm in no time at all!
3. Hand And Nail Cream
Chemo treatment can affect skin and nails and moisturizing the skin regularly can reduce soreness and pain. So a gentle non-perfumed hand cream might be a welcome and helpful gift.
As we have said, cancer treatments can be dehydrating and this will affect their skin. So a nice body or face moisturizer lotion might not only be welcome but could be a nice pampering item.
5. Bubble Bath or Shower Gel
If your friend/loved on is suffering from aches and pains, you can purchase a specialist bubble bath designed to soothe tired and aching muscles.
Shower gel can also be a good gift, especially if you buy products designed that may help ease some of the symptoms they are feeling - such as fatigue, tension, or anxiety.
Just make sure that the bubble bath or shower gel is gentle on the skin as they may be more sensitive than usual.
6. Hand Soap
A nice gentle on the skin, non-perfumed, natural handsoap might be a welcome gift, as the patient may need to pay closer attention to their hygiene because they will be more susceptible to infection.
7. Eye Mask
An eye mask can block out surrounding lights and relieve tension. This can help them sleep more comfortably both during chemo and in convalescence.
8. Neck, Inflatable, V-shaped Pillow or Snuggly Pillow
During chemo treatment, there is a lot of time spent sitting down. A soft pillow or neck rest can be very valuable to put under the legs or behind the head for support and comfort. If they feel fatigued or uncomfortable, a V-pillow is a great way to help them relax and unwind. It will also give support to the whole body. Helpful for home and hospital.
9. Lip Balm
I don't think we need to mention the effects of chemo on dehydration anymore! Lips are also affected and a nice, delicate non-fragranced lip balm can be a good soother.
10. Essential Oils
Essential oils have been shown to help battle feelings of stress and anxiety and promote a good night's sleep. In fact studies in cancer patients indicate that those exposed to essential oils had reduced anxiety, stress, and nausea and improved sleep. Aromatherapy is generally considered safe, but allergic/hypersensitivity reactions and contact dermatitis have been reported with lavender, bergamot, and other essential oils. So it's best to check with your friend/ loved one, whether they have any skin or other sensitivities before buying.
11. Stuffed Animals
Stuffed animals are a traditional gift to give to somebody when they are sick - and for a good reason. Sweet and comforting, they can be the best choice for the right type of person.
12. Memory Books
Scrapbooks or photo albums are a great gift to show a cancer patient you have been thinking about them. It could be helpful in lifting their spirits considerably.
13. Heating Pads
If your loved one is experiencing any aches and pains, heating pads are a useful as they can help deal with pain and relieve any tension they may be holding in their muscles.
14. Foot Spa
A foot spa is another good way to ensure chemo patients can relax and unwind, especially if they are feeling particularly tired or groggy.
15. Body Roller
Chemo patients often hold a lot of tension in their body - a body roller can be a good way to help them relax their muscles and unwind. Do check first though whether they have had any lymph nodes removed. As a massage in areas of lymph node removal is not recommended
16. Eye Gel Mask
If your friend/loved one is feeling fatigued after undergoing treatment, a gel eye mask can help them relax, helping them feel more like their ‘normal’ self.
17. Online Guided Meditation Class
Meditation can be a great way to relax, but if you have never done it before, it can be hard to know where to start. An online class with an instructor means they will be able to get to grips with the basics.
18. Inspirational Art Or A Framed Photograph
Framed prints, posters and canvases are a good gift if you find the perfect photograph or quote to feature. Focus on memories you have shared that capture your relationship. Or perhaps something inspirational or comforting?
19. Fidget Spinner
Fidget spinners are more than just a toy; they have been proven to help deal with feelings of stress and anxiety.
20. Silk Bedding
Silk bedding not only feels soft and luxurious, it is also excellent for those with sensitive skin, and unlike other materials does not collect dust.
21. Stress Ball
Sometimes, cancer patients will need to find a way to relieve their stress and tension. A stress ball can help.
1. Peppermint Tea
This is our first exception to the no foods rule that we mentioned at the start of this article. Peppermint tea is a good relaxer for both the mind and body and there is nothing in it that would interfere with any therapy. Also, if there is chemotherapy nausea, peppermint tea can help.
2. Other Herbal Teas
Herbal teas have a range of benefits, from settling an uneasy stomach to soothing anxiety and stress. You can now also find teas to help sleep, relax, be more awake...... There is such a wide variety. And the great thing about herbal teas is that they are naturally caffeine-free, so you don't have to worry about any caffeine side effects. You can also get some great gift sets. For any tea lover, the possibilities are endless.
Ginger, whether in the form of sweets or herbal tea, is an excellent tool in fighting feelings of nausea.
This is another exception to our rule regarding no food. As there is evidence that when taken with standard anti-nausea medications, ginger can reduce or eliminate nausea and vomiting which can occur during and after chemotherapy treatments. It is also cancer treatment safe.
During treatment, a patient should have access to snacks. Try to provide them with a mixture of healthy, nutritious food and a few sweet treats. But please be sure to follow our guidelines on chemo patients' dietary changes, and what they should and should not eat.
Mints can help somebody freshen up and can also be used to alleviate feelings of chemo-induced nausea. Before you get these check with the patient on how their diet may have changed.
6. Fancy Water Bottle